—Hello friends! A few weeks ago, I began posting short musings on Facebook, but I realized that many of us aren’t connected on that forum. So, I’d like to share them with you here too among the longer posts. (If you’re my friend on FB, please forgive the redundancy!) I chose this piece first because it has a special poignancy for me….and because I can’t wait to tell you (very very soon) what has been emerging in the story of my body and my struggle with Ankylosing Spondylitis. Here we go!—-
Isn’t there a temptation to sanitize our stories? To only tell them when the plot line rises to a happy end? As people of faith, it’s especially tempting to think that if the report isn’t good, it looks like God is failing….and frankly He can’t take a bit more bad press. Westboro Baptist and our own fickleness and failing have more than besmirched the lens through which He’s commonly viewed. (Not to mention the number of times we’ve prayed for sick friends only to see them descend further into sickness or even death)
But the fact of the matter is that God is no stranger to stories in which His reputation appears to take a hit…. the crucifixion looks like ultimate defeat, the virgin birth looks like consummate scandal, people misunderstand Jesus’ teachings, somebody accuses him of being in league with the devil. He hand picks adulterers (David), murderers (Moses), thieves, prostitutes and cowards to be his own. Oh and some of His most famous followers get shipwrecked, beaten, stoned, allegedly crucified upside down, and sawed in two…. What is going on here??
It looks pretty bad.
Why is God not ashamed of these stories? Because He defines “good story” differently than we do. We aren’t privy to the narration, only to the circumstances. He calls a story and a character “good” by the heart, not by the outward appearance; and He sees the story in its true finitude- we rarely (maybe never) get to see the ultimate end.
So, as I walk this windy road of seeking to be cured of an incurable disease (Ankylosing Spondylitis), I don’t have to be ashamed of the ambiguity and the uncertainty. God can call it “Good story” even if I’m not thoroughly made whole this side of heaven. Because what “good story” means to Him is one in which I have raging faith that refuses to let go…one in which my heart and mouth shout His praises and roll in gratitude for His love, truth, and constant presence. That can happen whether my body is cured or not. Faith. That’s the lynchpin ingredient between good and bad story in God’s economy. We don’t have to be ashamed when things aren’t going well….because that’s not what the story’s judged on.